Hordes of students from schools across the city — and around the country — walked out of class Wednesday in honor of kids who were gunned down at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida.
They took their message to the streets, to lawmakers and to the White House, calling for action to prevent any more senseless killings.
In the city, officials said more than 100,000 students participated in “Enough” walkout at hundreds of schools. And nationwide 3,000 similar demonstrations occurred in all 50 states.
Seventeen lives were snuffed out on Feb. 14 when gunfire from an AR-15 assault rifle rang out at the Parkland school just before the closing bell at the end of the school day.
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Sixteen people were also wounded in the massacre at the hands of 19-year-old Nikolas Cruz, a former student who had been thrown out of the school for disciplinary reasons.
The “Enough” walkouts lasted 17 minutes to pay homage to those who lost their lives at Marjory Stoneman exactly one month ago.
Students still in mourning issued an urgent demand to those in power: Do something now, and act to create stricter gun control laws. They demanded a ban on assault weapons, universal background checks and laws that would disarm people who show signs of violent behavior.
At the Bronx High School of Science, hundreds poured out of school’s doors to gather across the street at Harris Field Park.
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Some held signs that said “Bronx Science calls BS” and “Protect Kids not Guns.” One girl declared over a megaphone: “We’re breaking the silence and speaking out for what we believe in.”
“This won’t stop unless we do something about it,” said Bronx Science freshman Jamie Nicholas, 14, of Brooklyn. “We can’t just keep waiting for the next one to happen. This has to be ‘never again.’”
In Queens, hundreds walked out of Benjamin N. Cardozo High School, chanting and carrying signs calling for gun control.
Junior Samuel Lee, 16, carried one message that read: “You let me hold a gun, but I can’t hold my liquor.”
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“I just want the brutality to end,” Lee said. “That’s all I want, honestly.”
And hundreds also left Brooklyn Technical High School to gather at Fort Greene Park and make their voices heard.
“We want to bring attention to gun violence and we want to find ways to prevent it to create a safer environment for the students,” said junior Abir Ahmed, 16. “We’ve had enough.”
Politicians took part in the walkouts as well.
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At the High School of Public Service and Leadership in Manhattan’s Financial District, hundreds of students walked out of class with Gov. Cuomo at 9:50 a.m.
Cuomo walked alongside them and followed student chants, clapping and yelling “Enough is enough!” and “What do we want? Gun control! When do we want it? Now!”
Then the students gathered at Zuccotti Park and staged a die-in, chanting “not one more” and “never again.”
Cuomo lay down on the stone in the park like a corpse, too, flanked by dozens of students on either side of his body.
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“I think this is a very powerful statement,” Cuomo said when he addressed students and reporters after the die-in. “Sometimes I think you have students showing more leadership than the so-called leadership in Washington.”
Nationwide student walkout
Cuomo said the state would create a website called New York Students Against Gun Violence to help harness the energy of Wednesday’s protests.
“We want to mobilize this force in New York,” he said.
Mayor de Blasio joined students protesting at Edward R. Murrow High School in Brooklyn and told them he supported their message.
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“Murrow, I am very proud of you today,” de Blasio told the crowd of students. “You’re sick of the madness, you’re sick of the slaughter and you won’t stand for it.”
A town hall meeting on gun violence and school safety that de Blasio held last week drew fire from critics who said the mayor didn’t listen to students and used the event to push pet projects favored by his wife, First Lady Chirlane McCray.
But students at Murrow said they were glad to see the mayor there.
“I’ve never been so proud to be a part of this school’s community,” said Murrow senior Anastasia Beirne-Meyer, 17. “I’m also proud to be a New Yorker where our state’s gun laws are some of the strictest in the nation.”
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So far, the mass killing in Florida hasn’t prompted lawmakers to enact any meaningful limits on guns.
As the demonstrations unfolded, the NRA responded by posting a photo on Twitter of a black rifle emblazoned with an American flag. The caption read: “I’ll control my own guns, thank you.”
But protesters from Hawaii to Maine swore the walkout wouldn’t be the last time they’d raise their voices.
Students walked out of class in the nation’s capital, and kids walked out at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, the site of February’s deadly shooting.
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Students also walked out of class at Columbine High School in Colorado, where 13 were killed in a school shooting in 1999.
The demonstrations ranged from a reading of victims’ names, to lobbying lawmakers for improved gun background checks, to registering students to vote.
Student organizers such as Winter Minisee, a 17-year-old student at Encore High School for the Arts in Riverside, Calif., said kids have had enough.
“Youth across the country including myself are tired of gun violence and the fact that our elected officials … aren’t listening to us,” Minisee said.
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While kids in New York weren’t facing any disciplinary action for participating, students in some counties in New Jersey, South Carolina and Georgia were threatened with suspensions for joining in.
Thousands of students nationwide plan to attend a separate event, March for Our Lives, on March 24 in Washington, D.C.
The march is being organized by the survivors of the Parkland shooting and has sparked plans for protest events on that day across the country. The focus on March 24 also will be gun control legislation.
Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, who will chair a federal commission tasked with student safety, commended students for speaking up on school safety during Wednesday’s walkout.
“She hears them, and their input will be valuable,” said Education spokeswoman Liz Hill.
With Edgar Sandoval, Molly Newman, Chelsia Rose-Marcius, Janon Fisher, News Wire Services
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